Capt. Sully weighs in on EgyptAir 804 crash

CBS News aviation and safety expert Captain Sully Sullenberger discusses the recent EgyptAir crash in an interview with "Face the Nation" on May 22, 2016.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, said Sunday people should not jump to conclusions about what happened to EgyptAir flight 804.

"In many walks of life it's just human nature to shoot from the hip or jump to conclusions, but in safety-critical domains like aviation ... it's the evidence, facts, that we must rely on," Sullenberger said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Sullenberger, the pilot who successfully landed a 2009 U.S. Airways flight in the Hudson River next to New York City, said terrorism is certainly a possible cause -- but added that there are other things that could go wrong mid-flight that have nothing to do with an intentional act.

EgyptAir 804 was flying from Paris to Cairo early Thursday morning when it suddenly veered off course and ended up in the Mediterranean Sea. The plane had 66 people on board.

"You know, in light of recent events certainly in that part of the world and others, it's natural--it's human nature--to think of terrorism in the forefront," he said. "An intentional act is one of many possible causes still on the table."

Ultimately, we'll know more once both the plane wreckage and the black box have been found and thoroughly examined, he said.

"Well of course we will know a lot more once aircraft wreckage has been recovered and examined," he said. "But what we can say right now is that whatever the triggering event was, it was not sufficient to immediately destroy the entire airplane."

Mark Rosenker, a CBS News aviation safety analyst and the former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, said it will be a long time before any real conclusions can be made.

"Unless there is something which to use a silver bullet or a smoking gun, we're going to have to wait a while to do the forensics necessary," he said.

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.